If you are a permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization – the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. There are many compelling reasons to consider applying for naturalization.
Here are a few things that only U.S. citizens are eligible to do:
- file petitions for permanent resident (green card) status for your mother, father, brother, sister, or married son or daughter.
- help your spouse, parents, or unmarried children under age 21 to become permanent residents more quickly than permanent residents are able to.
- vote in national, state, and local elections.
- be a candidate for elected positions.
- obtain certain jobs that require applicants to be U.S. citizens.
Another important benefit of U.S. citizenship is something that many of us don’t consider very much, but that could end up causing a very big problem:
- U.S. citizens cannot be deported from the United States.
Suppose that you are involved in an incident that results in a criminal conviction. As we all know, sometimes persons are accused of crimes that they did not commit. At other times, we might suddenly be placed in a stressful situation, and we make a poor choice. We might also happen to commit a crime without being aware that what we have done is illegal. The truth is, even though we might never consider doing anything illegal, any of us could end up with a criminal conviction. A permanent resident who has been accused of a crime or who has a criminal conviction must immediately consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine if there are any possible deportation consequences of a criminal conviction. On the other hand, a person who is already a U.S. citizen at the time the incident occurs will not face any deportation consequences.
Some of the eligibility requirements of naturalization are:
- be a permanent resident for at least 4 years and 9 months (or 2 years and 9 months if you have been married to, and living with, a U.S. citizen for the entire 2 years and 9 months).
- submit federal tax returns every year, if you are required to do so under U.S. tax laws.
- have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the most recent 5 years (3 years if married to, and living with, a U.S. citizen for the entire 3 years).
These are only a few of the eligibility requirements. If you are considering naturalization, please contact our office. We would be glad to work with you.